Sunday, March 20, 2011

Tenacity of the Whirlwind

When the week breaks into exhausted corners that take days
to overcome, when at the end of it you're not sure any
of the flurry of actions was worth it, when you're left more confused
than ever, knowing nothing, feeling nothing, wrung out,
what's left? I didn't drive up to town today, as I was already
exhausted and it thunderstormed all morning, noon, and night.
Why tire yourself out even more with that kind of rough driving?
Things seemed to be going so well. Progress was being made.
I had a line on an escape hatch. Then the inevitable setback.
When you've had so many setbacks that you've become wary
of anything that seems like progress, because it all gets shot down
the moment you arrive near acceptance, when the rug's been pulled
out so many times that you can''t trust the floorboards,
what's left? I made a large meal and ate it, feeling bloated
afterwards. Probably shouldn't have had that second helping.
But what does it matter, when it's all going to crash down
and fail, nothing solved, nothing ended? There isn't anything
left to feel. It's all been wiped out.
The milky barium beverage they make you drink before
the CT scan, to give your guts contrast, the x-ray dye they stick
in your veins during the scan, arms sore after, and a migraine.
Enough to dilute the next blood test results. So who knows
what to believe? I hover on the edge of wanting an end,
due in part to the lab's incompetent stutter, the repetitive
markers that mark nothing, that add up to data sunk in tar.
What a wasting day. Leaves me too wiped out to do anything
but limp home, feet up, and try uncomfortably to nap.
I stare for awhile at dim photos on the wall, dim
in the dark, then nap fitfully in the big chair. At least with
the latest blood transfusion I'm not kept up all night, itching.
Other than that, still wondering if it made any difference.
Can't meditate. Tried my ass on the cushion, but the mind
raced off into cascading doom scenarios, a dog chasing its tail.
A bird dog would be good comfort, just now. We could walk off
and find a thicket to hide in, a tree stand where we'd be
invisible to the scanners and pokers and prodders.
Come find me, needleman and spinning x-ray pinwheels.
Of course my blood probably glows in the dark by now.
All they'd need to do was shine a light, and I'd light up,
a phosphorescent algae bloom washed up near shore.
Waves are lapping the stems of the old walls of the arch
at Pescadero. Lapping in the cold night dark, their crests
glowing with lambent red tide. The Pigeon Point light casts its beam
up coast a couple of times a minute. Under the redwoods
in a canyon just inland, total silence, except for this singed moon.
Wish I was there, ass on cushion, and my eye is getting most.
So what's left? I don''t believe in easy resolutions or quick fixes,
anymore. It's all going to be a dangled crab, bait on the end
of a pier where seagulls poke eyes and claws to shards.
Crab for dinner, when you're the dinner, needs more butter.
I can't meditate, or even visualize that moon pool calm,
I'm so dangerously angry. it's anger that I have left,
nothing else. That sustaining anger that is the animal self
refusing to die, the tenacity to hold on even when all other
aspects of this bruised self would just as soon let go.
I can't unbind this tenacity, so I keep on living, no matter
how pointless, insufferable. There must be a book
I haven't found somewhere that could make sense of it.
Missed connections, unappetizing snacks on a bus seat
arrowing across Arizona in failing air conditioning.
That stench. The smell it what gets to you first and last.
No point in hoping, they all get dotted and dashed.
The power of positive thinking, that awful guilty burden
they stick on you to blame you for your failings, remote reward,
relentlessly pursued, never fulfilled. You can't think your way
out of this. it doesn't get solved by thinking. Poems are not cures.
Tenacious anger of the predatory snarl, wounded jackal
backed into a corner, refusing to just lie down and be ended.
All I have left. No other rudder or keel.
No direction to go but forward, no steering, no compass,
no visibility, the river's roar fogged up, except of course the worst.
No sense of journey's end. Pretty sure that howling downstream
is the next rapids and falls. Boat's pretty banged
up by now. All you can do is float with the eddies and whirls.
Not even going to try to avoid banging the rocks. Only thing to trust
is the water's suck and surge around their borders.
The clearest water is in the fastest part of the stream.
Don't bother to care what's next. It's sure to be more
or less a disaster. You can't talk yourself into sleeping or solutions.
They come, they go. Here's a roadside thicket to rest in.
There's only one way to go, forward. The insidious urge to keep on
no matter what gives blank refuge. I can't seem to stop, myself,
or stop this long wildness ride.

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Blogger Elisabeth said...

This is some ride, Art, the ride of life against death, I suspect. And all you can do is keep going on, after your 'roadside thicket' of rest.

Powerful writing here, Art, however painful. Thanks.

4:00 AM  
Blogger Jim Murdoch said...

Poems are not cures, no, but they are palliatives. This reminds me of the end of The Unnamable: “I can't go on, I'll go on.”

4:32 AM  
Blogger Art Durkee said...


Let's just call this poem, rough as it is, what it really is: A very restrained form of the incoherent screaming and shouting I really want to do right now.

8:50 AM  
Blogger Art Durkee said...

The Beckett reference is appropriate, Jim. The thing is, he really knew how to nail certain stats of mind, and found words for things that often are too intense for words. "The Unameable" is a piece that has become very personal for me these past few years.

8:54 AM  

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